20 things you should have in your Public Affairs toolbox (Part 2)

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As a Public Affairs professional you have many tools available to create attention on a relevant issue or assert your organisation's influence. But often we see PA people getting stuck with a few of their favorite tools and thus miss out on new opportunities and tactics. Therefore we are going back to PA basics and will in a series of four articles present you with the 20 essential tools for Public Affairs work. The list of PA tools is extracted from Ulobby CEO Anders Kopp Jensen’s book The Public Affairs Engine - please note that the tools are not ranked in any particular order - their usefulness always depends on the situation and the nature of your organisation.

6. Targeted digital advocacy

Digital advocacy is a popular term, and covers many things, but often related to Twitter and LinkedIn. It can be very effective to prepare content, e.g. tweets with a graphic content, which can be shared with the ambassador corps (mentioned above) and pushed out at a certain time.

Pro tip: Try to be very focused on your target group and not just shooting blindly in the dark. For example, on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn it is easy to be very concrete and specific about who your target. And if you are targeting a specific politician, investigate or use software that tells you when the politician is mostly online and set your content up accordingly. This tactic can also be combined with physical activities enhancing the digital messages, e.g. with billboards placed strategically near parliament or high profile transport locations (e.g. Schuman).

7. Short videos

As the digital age also results in a great deal of noise which has the effect of making the user more lazy or tired, videos can make a nice change to the normal written posts. Videos can bring something new to the table, and, if done well, they can even have a much bigger impact than a well-conducted policy proposal. For some companies it is also a good way to show the face of their CEO or top management, maybe even in an informal way.

Pro tip: Again there are also many relevant tips worth mentioning, but here are three key guidelines: Informal videos can work very well but don’t make them too informal or intermistic, as the quality and message still reflects upon the entire organization, remember that poor sound loses views, and finally – in contradiction to the latter – also remember subtitles because many don’t turn on the sound when browsing through their feeds or watching them on the train.

8. Magazines

Writing and publishing your own magazine is not something typically seen coming from PA professionals. However, digital magazines can provide value for the buck as they can be used as a means of getting in touch with stakeholders who are possibly not so accessible.

Pro tip: If you are handling an issue which is tough to arouse political interest around or for politicians to form an official opinion about, interviewing them for the magazine about the issue can be a good way to not only get to know them but also their thinking.

9. Twitter ads

Twitter is probably the most widely used digital channel, often sarcastically referred to as the intranet for politicians and journalists. Organic tweets are often more authentic, e.g. directly from the CEO him- or herself, but more companies also add Twitter paid ads to their campaign tactics as these can be precisely targeted towards specific stakeholders you want to make aware of a specific message. But remember authenticity is the prerequisite for trust. If the organization, and in particular its leaders, are not trusted, social media will not correct the problem

Pro tip: Try to mix the Twitter cards with promoted tweets and with different messaging, so you get a different mix of messages across so your audience doesn’t get fed up with the many polished corporate messages.

10. Sponsorship

Sponsoring events, sports teams or causes are not that uncommon when “paid” for by sales, marketing or communication, but in PA this doesn’t happen quite as often. But it can be a useful way to, for example, empower an existing campaign by sponsoring an event which many relevant stakeholders will see.

Pro tip: Make sure the cause is in line with the ethics, values and actions of the company, otherwise it can backfire catastrophically. And once you have identified a cause, team or event then do some due diligence on the people behind it so there are no surprises later on.

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